What are Haplogroups?

Your DNA can be used to follow your personal history back generations, and includes information from both your maternal(mother’s side) and paternal(father’s side) lineage.

DNA inside the mitochondria(mtDNA) of your cells is passed directly to you from your mother, and therefore can be used to learn about your maternal ancestry. This is done by looking at specific differences in your mtDNA sequence and comparing them to the sequences of people across the globe. Similarities between your sequence and other people that are known to commonly inhabit a certain region creates a grouping of similar ancestry, which is called a haplogroup. 

To learn more about the paternal side of your lineage, the Y chromosome is used, which is a collection of DNA passed from father to son. Only people with a Y chromosome will have this information as part of their DNA results. Similarly to mtDNA, the genetic information within the Y chromosome is compared to other sequences from other people, and similar sequences commonly found in a certain region are grouped together to form Y haplogroups.

These haplogroups are based on patterns of where similar DNA sequences are found on the globe, and new ones are constantly being added to the haplogroup tree. Haplogroups are not based in racial or ethnic categorizations, although they can align with what a person identifies as their race, ethnicity, or place of origin.